ELECTION IN BANANA REPUBLIC?
NO, IT'S AN ELECTION IN EAST LINDEN ESTATES -- AGAIN!

 

An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published July 26, 2007   

     

Big problems with last year's elections (Election embroiled in controversy) should have been a lesson on how to avoid controversy this year and make sure that all goes according to the rules. You would think so, wouldn’t you?

Not in the EAST LINDEN ESTATES HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. in Spring Hill , Florida . The annual meeting and the actual election went smoothly, with the votes tallied by the election committee, verified and announced by Director Thomas Lyons. All was well, if there had not been the "slight" problem that sitting board member Kenneth Kral was ousted by the vote of the members. Now what?

It took nearly a week before the clique -- Lawrence Rosen, Willis Keller, and Kenneth Kral -- found the solution to "their" problem. They "found" some uncounted votes, claiming that there was a clerical error that changed the "outcome" of the election.  Therefore, they removed David Parker, who had officially been announced as winner by Tom Lyons on election night, from his rightful seat on the board. They didn't want Parker there in the first place, according to their comments!

And in order not to have to answer any questions by owners they never held an organizational meeting, as required by the bylaws. They rather dealt with the issue in private -- avoiding public scrutiny!

After they tainted the voting records by "finding" clerical errors and adding uncounted ballots, they tried to cover their tracks by meeting with the election committee. Obviously too late! And if Kenneth Kral thought that votes were miscounted, he should have been the one filing for election arbitration. After the official announcement of the result of the election by Tom Lyons at the meeting, the election was officially over. Anybody who thought that mistakes were made should have challenged the announced results by filing for election arbitration, according to FS 720.311. PERIOD!

Nobody but an arbitrator has the right to change the results of an officially announced HOA election!

And when David Parker, definitely not fooled by such an alleged "voting discrepancy," failed to voluntarily give up his seat on the board, the clique called attorney Robert Tankel for help.  Tankel fired off a letter to warn David Parker that legal action would be taken against him if he doesn’t quickly step down.

Please see the scanned version of Tankel's letter -- definitely a work of art:

ROBERT L. TANKEL, P.A. 

Robert L Tankcl 

Of Counsel

Joel R. Weaver

Michael M. Milo 

Attorney at Law

1022 Main Street , Suite D Dunedin , Florida 34698 www.condocollections.com

Voice: 727.736.1901

Fax: 727.736.2305

Email Condolawyer@aol.com

 

July 10, 2007

Mr. David Parker

12470 Winston Court 

Spring Hill, Florida 34609

           RE:       East Linden Estates election

Dear Mr. Parker:

As you may know, I serve as corporate counsel to the referenced entity.

I understand that there is some confusion on your part about the election results. As you know, you had extensive input into the election process, procedures, mail out and return of ballots. The election was held exactly as you suggested, in order to avoid the problems associated with the election last year.

On the night of the election, it is clear that the count of the ballots was transposed. I'm quite sure that no court or arbitrator in the world would allow you to take office on the basis of a clerical error in the counting of the ballots. The results of the election are Official Records of the Association and can be provided to you on request for review. Aside from the embarrassment of claiming a seat based on a clerical error, in my opinion you have no legal argument that you are entitled to a seat on the Board due to that miscount. That would be outrageous to the people who cast their ballots in good faith.

I would urge you to contact an attorney who is a member of  The Florida Bar if you have any doubts as to your legal rights. Aside from the clear legal conclusion that you did not receive enough votes to get elected, I would think you would be embarrassed to publicly demand, and use the legal process to attempt to claim a seat when you clearly received less votes than any other candidate and your only position is that a mistake was made in the counting of the ballots even though you were intimately involved in all other aspects of the election.

The people who received the highest number of votes will be seated as the Board, and will meet and move forward. Please do not interfere with their actions, as if you do appropriate legal action may have to be taken against you.

Sincerely yours. 

ROBERT L. TANKEL, P.A.

(SIGNATURE)

Robert L. Tankel

RLT/wb

cc:      Board of Directors

I can only hope that Tankel relied on statements from those three board members when writing this letter. Otherwise, he plainly "assumes" things he doesn't know as a fact and is willing to cover up for election shenanigans of board members who are unwilling to concede that one member of their clique was ousted by the vote of the homeowners!

Tankel’s letter is in my opinion a letter of intimidation.  Tankel tries to scare the homeowner -- definitely not a letter that tries to explain facts. It's anyway very hard to explain why votes "found" after the counting and official announcement of the result should be counted, especially if the "finder" is the candidate who lost in the "regular" election. Arbitration rulings by the DBPR definitely paint a different picture!

Threatening letters like that are very common in homeowners' associations and certain lawyers feel they can run roughshod over homeowners, knowing full well that these owners normally don't have the finances to fight for their rights. And these attorneys forget that they are supposed to represent the interests of the members of the association, not the private agenda of a clique trying to run the show! 

The Florida BAR should look into this in my opinion unethical behavior of these attorneys. Attorney Robert Tankel already had been suspended once before by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Florida in 2003. 

This case of the "found" votes is going to election arbitration with the DBPR -- as you can imagine. It's about as ridiculous as it gets! But since the owners claiming to be the "board of directors" decided that they really are the board, the owner who has won the election and was officially announced as the new member of the board on "election night" has to file for arbitration. 

What's wrong in Florida that we have so many election problems? Is it something in the air that stops people from thinking straight? Or is it because we live in a BANANA REPUBLIC with no enforceable laws?

This is a typical example why board members should not be indemnified -- especially if their actions are willful violations of existing laws. These shenanigans could be stopped if the legislators finally create laws -- and the strict enforcement of such laws -- that will hold the people in charge accountable for their actions.

These board members and "professionals" violate every law in the book, but the homeowners have to pay for the mistakes! 


East Linden Estates election embroiled in controversy  

East Linden Estates to hold new election

 
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